By Francis Atul Sarker, Caritas Bangladesh
I’m here at climate change talks in Bonn trying to persuade government negotiators to think seriously about some low-tech solutions that poor countries like my own, Bangladesh, need to be able to deal with changing weather patterns brought about by climate change.
Hopefully, I’ll also gain an overview of how these negotiations work so that Caritas Bangladesh will be able to influence future climate change talks.
Climate change is a priority for Caritas in Bangladesh because we’re living with its consequences every day. Bangladesh is a low-lying country, which is prone to cyclones and severe weather. Just last week Cyclone Aila hit areas where we work.
In our daily activities of supporting poor communities improve their own lives, we see rises in sea levels having a detrimental effect on their livelihoods. We see, we touch, we feel how the salt water that is invading the land is disturbing crop patterns, destroying a variety of animals and plants, and hurting poor people who are trying to keep their heads above water in more ways than one.
My aim in Bonn is to tell the governments that poor people need the skills and knowledge to be able to adapt to these challenges. Caritas Bangladesh is already developing better farming knowledge, how to build embankments, introducing salt (saline) resistant rice into communities. These low-tech solutions will need proper resourcing, investment, and planning if the poor are to be safeguarded. There is a real need.
Another example is our potato crop. Last winter, fog kept out the sunshine and the added moisture means the crop went bad.
Negotiating drafts of a new agreement on climate change lack any real dedication to adaptation technology for the poor. That’s why Caritas and its sister network CIDSE launched a new report here in Bonn, calling for greater attention to this area.
I believe people are listening to Caritas. We held a panel event to launch a new report on adaptation, which was well attended by negotiating parties. As one of the panellists, I spoke to EU experts and negotiators from developing countries and the head of the working group on technology transfer. The feedback was positive, with people saying they appreciated the report and would consider taking its recommendations forward.
The talks are dominated by rich countries and the political horse-trading over greenhouse gases emissions. But aid agencies and pressure groups like Caritas are providing a different alternative.
It’s too early to tell how the talks are going. The mood here is still optimistic. We can only push our governments to make sure they act for the greater good.